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Week 2 NFL Picks

There’s a showdown in Seattle you do not want to miss. Colin Kaepernick and his apparently unending skill set will be in attendance. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

My apologies for not posting a Week 1 review. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law had surgery and we were traveling after visiting her. I missed all the early games and most of the late afternoon games. Thus, I had nothing to offer aside from this life lesson: Driving on Sunday afternoons during football season is worse then waiting in line at the DMV.

Last Week:  9 – 7 – 0
Season:       9 – 7 – 0

Thursday Recap

Jets 10 at Patriots 13
It was a long night for offenses, football fans, and especially, rookies. The highlights of the awfulness:

1. Geno Smith was worse than Mark Sanchez. 15/35, 3 INT, and not a single “oh wow, that was impressive,” moment.
2. Aaron Dobson dropped what should have been an 84 yard touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter.
3. On New England’s next possession, Kenbrell Thompkins caught a 38 yard pass with nothing but oxygen between himself and the end zone. Thompkins allowed his momentum to carry him out of bounds. New England settled for a field goal.
4. On New England’s final possession of the 1st half, Thompkins caught a 25 yard touchdown pass. And then the officials ruled he in fact did not make the grab. The Patriots would attempt and miss a 43 yard field goal.
5. Together, Dobson and Thompkins combined for 17 targets. They caught five passes. FIVE!

In addition to multiple drops, both Patriot receivers made a concerted effort to see how long it took before Tom Brady punched them in the face. Brady even admitted in his post game press conference his body language could be better. Screw that. You stay fiery, Thomas. As my brother noted midway through the 3rd quarter, “poor Tom Brady is a victim of injuries, free agency, and the justice system.” I think that about sums up the night. 

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Rams at Falcons
I was actually disappointed with the Rams in Week 1. I thought their defense would be better. The Falcons proved they’re the same team as they were a year ago; good enough to be there at the end, just not good enough to close. I like this game. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons -7

Panthers at Bills
Too many people are down on the Panthers. Here’s how I look at it: Carolina went toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s best and only lost by 5 points. Sure, skeptics can look at the “revamped” Carolina offense’s 7 point outing as a bad sign but let’s give Seattle its due as a top defense. I picked Carolina to make the playoffs because of a stellar defense and I believed in a resurgent Cam Newton in a new offense. The stellar defense proved itself. I still think Newton and the offense will do the same in time. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -3

Vikings at Bears
The Minnesota Adrian Petersons need something out of their passing attack. It’s been nearly a year since the Vikings last passed for more than 250 yards (Oct. 25th 2012 vs. TB was the last time.) Even worse, the Vikings failed to crack the 200 yard plateau in six of their last nine regular season games, even failing to surpass 100 yards on two occasions. Yes, Peterson is a fantastic back, but as the Lions proved Sunday, even he can be contained. After a 78 yard touchdown scamper early in the 1st quarter, Peterson managed to finish with only 93 yards. Until Minnesota poses a respectable aerial threat, they’ll remain a predictable offense and ultimately find themselves in the basement of the NFC North. BEARS If I were Charles Barkley; Bears -6.5

Redskins at Packers
I thought the Packers looked good in San Francisco. Green Bay’s secondary could have been better, and the Packers still lack a reliable ground attack, but Aaron Rodgers looked great. And that’s the most important thing for the Packers. If he’s protected, Green Bay is a contender. Similarly, the Redskins need the best from their quarterback to be considered contenders. After an awful 1st half, Robert Griffin III rallied to a solid 2nd half. Still, he’s no Adrian Peterson. Griffin’s knee won’t be right until late in the season or perhaps even as late as next fall. I don’t think the Redskins are good enough without a fully healthy RGIII. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers -7

Dolphins at Colts
I expected the Browns to be good and the Dolphins controlled that game from the get-go. I expected the Colts to roll over Oakland and the Raiders were winning until late in the 4th quarter. So yeah, I have no feel for either of these teams. Hello, home team. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts -3

Chargers at Eagles
Thoughts that ran through my head during Monday night’s dominating first half by the Eagles:
– Don’t get too excited.
– Don’t get too excited.
– RGIII looks awful.
– This is awesome!
– Is Desean Jackson good again?
– Don’t get too excited.

Thoughts throughout the 2nd half:
– Well, Desean disappeared again.
– No way Vick plays more than 12 games.
– Our defense can’t survive the offense’s lightning possessions.
– Vick still reads the blitz like it’s written in Mandarin.
– Oh crap.
– I miss Reggie White.

It was that kind of night. Look, I’m excited about Chip Kelly’s offense. At the very least, this promises to be an entertaining (and painfully stressful) season. The Eagles will likely build a big league and spend the last 20 minutes scrambling as it slips away five or six times this season. They’ll win some, they’ll lose some. It’s coming. I’m doing my best to prepare for it. Defenses will get better around Week 4 or 5 at combating the Eagles break-neck pace. This is all a given. What concerns me most is Vick’s health, the defense’s stamina, and Jeremy Maclin’s absence.

Vick couldn’t make it through Game 1 without limping. He looked gassed by the 50 minute mark. Given his injury history and the hits he takes, I’m not certain he can keep up with the offense for too long.

Then there’s the defense. Remember last year when the offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense would be exhausted by the 3rd quarter? The same thing happened Monday night except instead of the offense struggling for 1st downs, they exceled too quickly. Chip Kelly’s offense is more of a conditioning nightmare for his defense than the offense. Furthermore, as Packers receiver Jordy Nelson wisely pointed out, this is the NFL. A college roster is bursting with interchangeable players for Kelly’s lightning pace. An NFL roster has only 53 options.

Lastly, Maclin was the Eagles best receiver. He would have been awesome in this offense. Instead, we’re stuck with the boisterous and heavily overrated Jackson. It took the Redskins 30 minutes to realize, “hey, this is Desean Jackson. Keep him in front of you and beat him up at the line and he’ll disappear.” So there’s that.

All-in-all, I’m enjoying the Chip Kelly era even though my heart may not survive past season three. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles -8

Cowboys at Chiefs
I picked the Cowboys to win the NFC East. I’m feeling 40% less confident about that pick after Sunday night. I’m not exactly sure how you force six turnovers at home and still need a fluky pick six to seal the deal late in the 4th quarter, but oh well. All I keep hearing about Dez Bryant’s lackluster 2013 debut is, “he was doubled all game long.” Well, duh. Bryant’s a top tier receiver. Of course he’s going to be doubled. What does that have to do with his production? Is AJ Green not doubled? How about Calvin Johnson? Julian Edelman had a convoy tracking him Thursday night and still managed to catch 13 balls. There are no excuses for Bryant. He’s too talented. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley; Cowboys +3

Browns at Ravens
Baltimore’s had 10 days to marinate in the stank of their humiliating loss to Denver. Due to retirement, free agency, and now injuries, the Ravens are shorthanded and lacking an identity. Time for Joe Flacco to earn that dough. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -6.5

Titans at Texans
Arian Foster was/is unhappy with his limited role in the 2nd half of Monday’s come-from-behind win in San Diego. Truth be told, Foster could use a kick in the rear. Monday was the sixth time in Houston’s last nine regular season games that Foster was held below 3.5 yards per carry. That’s starting to skew from “coincidence” to “trend.” TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans -9.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Lions at Cardinals
Oh boy, to this point I’ve picked all favorites with the exception of the Cowboys. Even there it took 15 minutes to finally decide I couldn’t trust Kansas City’s infant offense just yet. Therefore, for no other reason than I need to pick a dog at some point, I’m taking the Cardinals at home. Though the Lions looked good in Week 1, I still don’t trust a Jim Schwartz-led team, especially on the road against a resurgent Cardinal team that was better than their dismal record in 2012. (Did I mention I went 5-10-1 last week? Yeh, don’t follow my advice.) CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley; Cardinals +2.5

Saints at Buccaneers
It’s getting ugly in Tampa; fixing votes, distrust of leadership, losing to the Jets. We’re a sexual affair away from a perfect Scandal episode. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley; Saints -3.5

Jaguars at Raiders
Blaine Gabbert. Terrelle Pryor. Empty seats. Baseball dirt. Are you excited?!? RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley; Raiders -6

Broncos at Giants
I’m taking the Giants. I think they’re better than their six turnover disaster in Dallas and I think the Broncos are worse than Manning’s seven TD explosion in Denver. I’d continue to defend this pick but let’s be honest; you stopped reading this post four or five picks ago. GIANTS If I were Charles Barkley; Giants +5

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

49ers at Seahawks
Russel Wilson was quietly fantastic in Week 1 against a stellar and underrated Panther defense. 25/33, 320 yards, a TD and endless poise. It wasn’t flashy, but it was everything you’d want out of your franchise quarterback. Colin Kaepernick’s Week 1 performance was even better. I’ve expressed doubt about Kaepernick several times on this blog, citing his throwing motion and ability to read a defense as red flags. One of the great things about being wrong all the time is you get really good at admitting it. Kaepernick was the best quarterback in Week 1. Better than Wilson. Better than Aaron Rodgers. Better than Manning, Brady, Brees, and everyone else who stood under center. Yes, it was only one week, but Sunday’s performance was no fluke.

Now to the game… This is probably the game of the year. Even better, it will be played in front of the league’s best crowd in prime time. Two exciting, athletic, and supremely talented quarterbacks? Check. Two relentlessly tough and punishing defenses? Check. Perhaps the NFL’s two best teams? Check. If you’re only going to watch one football game all season, I suggest you make this the one. I’m riding the Seahawks because I like their defense more. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley; Seahawks -3

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Steelers at Bengals
I picked the Steelers to snag one of the AFC’s Wildcard spots. I wasn’t even using drugs when I did so. Pittsburgh is so lost I fear for Mike Tomlin’s employment. They have nothing going for them right now. I can’t think of a single reason to pay attention to the Steelers right now. When was the last time that was true? Is Ben Roethlisberger even considered a star anymore? When did Troy Polamalu turn into Bob Sanders? One week is hardly enough evidence to write off a team for an entire season, but good gracious that loss to Tennessee was ugly. I don’t think Pittsburgh is good enough to take down a talented Bengals team, especially one coming off a game they should have won. Regardless, 7.5 points seems too high for a divisional passing-of-the-torch game. The Steelers will make Cincinnati earn it. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley; Steelers +7.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Last Week: 5 – 10 – 1
Season:      5 – 10 – 1


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